Just as she did four years ago at the Vancouver Games, Hoefl-Riesch found herself trailing an American after the downhill leg before using her slalom skills to vault into first place and successfully defend her Olympic title in the dual-run event.
The German finished less than a second ahead of both silver medalist Nicole Hosp of Austria and Julia Mancuso of the United States, who won the bronze. Mancuso won silver in the event in Vancouver.
Lindsey Vonn had the fastest downhill time in Vancouver, but when Vonn skied out on the slalom, Hoefl-Riesch roared back to claim gold. This time, Vonn is out with an injury, and Mancuso replaced her at the top the standings after the downhill.
Also on Day 4 of the Sochi Olympics, Charles Hamelin of Canada raced to the 1,500-meter short track speedskating gold, and Viktor Ahn earned the bronze to give Russia its first-ever short-track medal; Michel Mulder of the Netherlands earned the 500-meter speedskating gold; Martin Fourcade won the 12.5-kilometer biathlon pursuit; and Alex Bilodeau won his second consecutive gold medal in men’s moguls.
ALPINE SKIING: Hoefl-Riesch was fifth fastest in the opening downhill leg, trailing Mancuso by 1.04 seconds.
The German’s two-run time of 2 minutes, 34.62 seconds was 0.40 seconds faster than Hosp.
Mancuso, who finished 0.53 behind Hoefl-Riesch, won her fourth career Olympic medal in Alpine skiing. No other American woman has won more than two.
SHORT-TRACK SPEEDSKATING: At 29, Hamelin was the oldest skater in the first final of the short track competition.
The wily veteran maintained a top-three position throughout most of the 14-lap race, leaving enough at the end to defeat a loaded field, including Ahn and silver medalist Han Tianyu of China.
Ahn was a three-time gold medalist for his native South Korea, but after missing the Vancouver Games he changed his name and became a Russian citizen. When he stepped on the medals podium, the mostly Russian crowd erupted in wild cheers.
SPEEDSKATING: Mulder’s 500-meter speedskating victory earned him the title of fastest man on skates.
Teammate Jan Smeekens was 0.01 seconds behind for silver, and twin Ronald Mulder took bronze in a Dutch sweep.
BIATHLON: Fourcade’s win earned France its first medal. Ondrej Moravec of Czech Republic took the silver, and Jean Guillaume Beatrix of France earned bronze.
Ole Einar Bjoerndalen of Norway finished fourth, missing out on a record 13th Winter Olympic medal.
MEN’S MOGULS: Bilodeau became the Olympics’ first repeat winner in men’s moguls. Canadian teammate Mikael Kingsbury won the silver, giving the Canadians a 1-2 finish in both men’s and women’s moguls.
CURLING: The Norwegian men, curling’s fashion kings of cool, made their Sochi debut with another snazzy pattern on their pants — a mixture of red, white, blue and gray squares and rectangles.
Norway dazzled the U.S. 7-4, but the surprise of opening day was Switzerland’s upset of defending champion Canada.
On the women’s side, Sweden defeated Britain 6-4 in a matchup of two favorites for the women’s curling gold.
ICE HOCKEY: The United States romped to a 9-0 victory over Switzerland to all-but clinch a spot in the Olympic women’s hockey semifinals.
Canada topped Finland 3-0 to ensure its spot in the semifinals.